Dancing People Company, dance company member

Dancing People Company (DPC) is a contemporary/modern dance group of six dancers, formed by Artistic Director Robin Stiehm in 1994, in Minneapolis. They have had the opportunity to perform in the United States and abroad. DPC moved to Ashland, Oregon, in 2003 to continue pursuing their vision that “dance is an accessible art form that illuminates the commonality of the human experience - that dance is an important means of expressing our everyday lives.”

1. Describe your organization’s mission and its work in 3 adjectives. Please explain the adjectives you selected.
  • Genuine – DPC presents original choreography. Stiehm’s experience in both the ballet and modern worlds, and her desire to keep embracing the best of both, influences the company’s work and performance style. A hallmark of the company is the “real people” style of dancing and performing – genuine people who just happen to be capable of gorgeous, physical feats.
  • Connective – In addition to professional performances, DPC undertakes projects that connect our community with our dancers. Most notably is the annual Winter Solstice production, Call Back the Sun.  This performance brings DPC dancers together with local musicians, aerialists, and recreational dancers. It serves as an excellent example of DPC’s belief in community bonding through artistic achievement.
  • Evocative – DPC’s highest goal is to help people more deeply think and feel through their exposure to dance. Therefore, any work the company undertakes, whether a performance, class, or high school intensive, aims to inspire and elicit thought, discovery, and/or inspiration.
2. What inspires the work of your organization and why?

Dancing People Company is committed to creating and presenting dance of the highest technical standards. Dance is a language, and only if spoken fluently and eloquently can one express the cherished complexity of the human experience. Whether it’s the passion, the prickliness, the shards of a broken person, the healed soul, or the simple joy of being alive – all of it is right there for dance to illuminate. Every DPC project is inspired by our desire to share our love of dance and life with our audiences, students, and friends.

3. What accomplishment from the past year is your organization most proud of and eager to share with Dance/USA’s membership and the field at large?

DPC, in its first life in Minnesota, was fortunate to travel several times overseas. This year, the Oregon incarnation of the company had its first performances outside of the U.S., at the OPEN LOOK International Dance Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. What a significant experience for this small company of young dancers! Despite an unfortunate injury and minimal rehearsal time, a successful performance ensued. These seemingly insurmountable setbacks increased the performance’s meaningfulness for dancers and their individual artistry. The trials of our journey helped unify DPC as a whole, making us more committed to excellence and recharging our batteries. Dancers and staff alike are eager to continue striving, building, and strengthening the company.

4. Where do you see dance in the future and how does your organization fit within that vision?

Dance is a highly virtuosic art form; we must never lose this aspect of dance. At the same time, how does virtuosity translate to increasing the general public’s fundamental interest in dance? We must educate people to accept dance as part of daily life and not only something practiced by “professionals.” When people start to see their chores as the “Dance of Brushing Teeth” and the “Dance of Grocery Shopping,” they can embrace the integration of mind and body, seeing dance as we do: beauty, expression, and vitality.

5. As an organization, what do you hope your dance legacy to be?

DPC has transitioned from a large metropolitan city to a small, rural town. The move and subsequent restructuring profoundly affected the vision and direction of the organization. We began asking “What can we give?” instead of “What can we get?”

In Ashland, DPC is loved, not just appreciated, admired, or tolerated. After performances the dancers are stopped on the street and thanked for the beauty they bring to the community. The dancers return the thanks because they know that, without people to share their dance with, there is no purpose for their passion. At DPC, our hope is to continue maintaining an everlasting connection with our audience and our community. We have created a place and appreciation for high-quality dance that we hope will remain strong for many years to come.